A fascinating article by Ann Beaglehole:
An account of Jewish refugees interned on Somes Island during the Second World War with
Germans, and other enemy aliens with Nazi sympathies. It describes the security concerns
about aliens in general, the classification of refugees and the experience of Jewish refugees is
the internment camp.
At least eight of the men who were interned in New Zealand during World War II were
Jewish, part-Jewish or had a Jewish background. They had come to New Zealand before the
war as refugees from Germany and Austria, fleeing Nazism. For three or four years of the
war they and other anti-fascist refugees were imprisoned with German nationals who
included among them some fervent Nazis. At camps set up on Somes Island in Wellington
Harbour and for a shorter time at Pahiatua in the central North Island, they were locked up
and guarded ‘lest [they] escaped to help their mortal enemies’.
I was unaware of this piece of history. I knew of the internment camps but had no idea that actual Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler were locked up for months and years, alongside Nazi supporters. And it gets even worse:
But the most painful aspect of internment was probably the bitter experience of being confined with Nazis and Nazi sympathizers who ‘were arrogant and confident of a German victory’. Permitted to wear Nazi paraphernalia, ‘to exhibit photos of the Fuhrer [sic] in their quarters, and to celebrate both national and Nazi festivals, they took pleasure in parading their beliefs and caused a good deal of trouble with Jewish and anti-Nazis internees in their attempt to convert them to their way of thinking’.
Where’s the Government apology for this?